This has been our biggest year yet: not just in post count, traffic, or any number of other metrics. It’s been the year with the biggest changes and the most happening here on Critical Hits, and I couldn’t be prouder of where we are today.
In May, I was interviewed by Wizards of the Coast for a feature on Critical Hits. In the course of answering the questions, I delved into the origins of the site:
It was kind of a weird time when we started Critical Hits. Many of us were graduating college, starting to move on to real jobs, get married, and so on. Our gaming group was pretty split up at the time, and so we’d have long conversations about “nerd stuff” through email and IMs… everything from comics, to movies, to (of course) D&D. I wanted a way to bring more people into the conversation. Meanwhile, one of those friends (who posts as TheMainEvent on our site) started his own WordPress blog based on a similar idea, focusing on humor and politics. I combined those concepts and started Critical Hits.
It’s been five years since those events lead me to start Critical Hits with Vince and Bartoneus, and brought other friends on board to help write. In year 1, we were just getting off the ground and learning about the whole blogging biz. Year 2 saw some of our first regular features, including the Inquisition of the Week and YouTube Tuesday, our first brush with fame covering a Fallout 3 press event, and one of the top referrers to our site was someone called “The Chatty DM.” I said in year 3 that we really started to “make it” with our DDXP coverage of the first big 4e announcements. Year 4 saw our first Ennie nomination (our second came this year, for which we are still very grateful) and continued growth.
However, it also saw Bartoneus and I stretch ourselves a bit thin. Between everything else, it became more and more difficult to keep updating on the schedule we wanted to. Thus, it became clear that we needed some more help.
It had been my dream for a long time to have a number of authors writing for the site. With that in mind, we put out the call for writers. The Chatty DM was the first who proposed a merge with us. In his own words:
I joined/merged with CH for many reasons, partly because I didn’t want to handle backend issues but a lot because I wanted to work closer with the team of this website with whom I shared a lot of values in regards to integrity, quality and passion toward our own branch of geekism.
I wanted post-merge CH to become a hub of like-minded passionate word-freaks whose voices shone in the community as authoritative and engaging.
The gamble we took paid in spades as we’ve since brought in so many new voices: both established or promising talent. CH no longer is a website about a handful of clever buddies writing cool geeky stuff, but rather an active community team made up of top-notch like-minded, friendly geeks sharing what they love so much about their hobbies and the lives they shaped around them.
I’m honored to be part of that team now.
We would go on to set Vanir up with our first regular column, bringing his sense of humor to the web. Great writers like Mike Shea (looking for a home for articles that didn’t fit on Sly Flourish), the prolific Matt James, Scott Wallace‘s brief run of fluff-filled articles, and total newcomer Dixon Trimline, who says this:
In January 2010, I was reading blogs, listening to podcasts, studying rules books, but I wasn’t really playing, and I certainly wasn’t connecting with the community at large. That was when Dave the Game posted an invitation on Critical-Hits.com along the lines of, “Do you have a blog? Do you like to write? Would you like to contribute to Critical Hits?” My answers were, in order, No, Yes, and Yes.
I had no business applying, as I didn’t have any kind of presence on the web, and I flustered over the decision for quite a while before sending in this e-mail: “If you have room for a total unknown, I have a few ideas for 4E articles. This really is the game system I’ve been seeking my whole gaming life, and man-oh-boy would I like an opportunity to share and interact with an equally enthusiastic community.”
Dave was absurdly gracious, welcoming me to submit an idea, then an article, and then additional articles, and readers actually started responding to what I was writing, and I was stupified with joy. This was exactly what I wanted when I first send that e-mail but not at all what I expected. Critical Hits has afforded me an opportunity I never thought I’d get, and every day I feel delighted, blessed, and monumentally unworthy of it. This is a good blog, and these are good people.
If that wasn’t enough, we would go on to take on former WotC employees and freelancers, the very folks who helped shape the game we had written so much about and played all the time. First Chris Sims joined us with his regular column, then Logan Bonner came aboard (after I met him at Pax East), and Shawn Merwin, all of whom bring a deep insights into the game, and even if I weren’t running the site, I’d learn a lot from them all.
So, as I’ve run on too long already, I’ll sum up: THANK YOU ALL. Whether you’re a friend who I convinced to blog 5 years ago, a more recent columnist, a one time guest, a regular commenter, a lurker who has never done anything but read: I thank you all.
What’s next for us? I’ve moved more to the editor role than that of a regular writer, and I’m hoping to keep going what we’re doing here. On top of that, we’re very close to launching a new feature that will get even more content out there for your reading enjoyment. And possibly, from there, onto the publishing world. I’ve tried some tentative steps into that world before that, honestly, I’ve dropped the ball on. However, I think this will be the year we started putting together some actual books.
As always, let us know if there’s something you’d like to see.
Enough from me. Onto our annual stat round-up!
- Highest number of RSS feed subscribers: 2,529
- Total Pageviews in the past year: 956,007
- Unique Visitors in the past year:291,243
- Total number of posts: 2,487 (including all Musings of the Chatty DM posts)
- Total number of comments: 25,188
- Total number of different comment names: 2,620
- Total spam blocked: 110,106
- D&D XP 2010: Dark Sun Characters
- A DM’s Look at D&D Essentials
- D&D XP 2010: Dungeons & Dragons Essentials
- Gen Con 2010: D&D New Products Seminar
- How the iPad Changes D&D
- Ashes to Ashes, Death to Life
- The New D&D Starter Red Box: A Chatty and Nico Review
- Save vs. Misogyny: An Open Letter To Gen Con’s Event Organizers
- Review: “Martial Power 2″
- D&D 4e: The New Player’s Option
- Musings of the Chatty DM
- Skill Challenges
- Guide to 4e Accessories
- Dungeon Master Guys Podcast
Other Favorite Posts of the Year as Chosen by Us
- The Almighty Player
- Full Spectrum Thoughts: The Traitors Among Us
- The Final Stage of a RPG Group: Dissolution
- 3 Rolls, 1 Check
- Keeping up with the PCs: The Secret Synergy Bonus
- Changing the Way we Think About Published Adventures
Most Popular Posts in Each Column
- Musings of the Chatty DM: The Gnomish Viral Music Box
- Dire Flailings: Cheeseburger, Plain
- Random Encounters: Railroading in a Good Way
- Pain of Campaigning: The Plot Kill
- Analysis Paralysis: Sunburn is the Least of Your Worries
- Know Your Roll: Thinking Outside the Boxed Text
- Flavour Feast: Ashes to Ashes, Death to Life
- Minor Quests: Delving into the Lost City
- Critical Threats: Air War
Top 4 Human Authors and 1 Robot Author by Post Count
- Dave “The Game” Chalker (834)
- The Chatty DM (821)
- Bartoneus (344)
- Gato the News Robot (89)
- The Main Event (50)
Top 5 Commenters
- Chatty DM (by far)
- Dave: The Game
- Reverend Mike
Top 5 Countries
- United States
- United Kingdom
Top 5 US States
- New York
Top 5 Referrers
Top Blog Referrers
Top Search Keywords out of 67,307
- Critical Hits
- d&d essentials / dungeons and dragons essentials
- chatty dm
- watch firefly
- critical hit podcast
- critical hits blog
Bottom 6 Search Keywords
- “bullets at the poker table” is it a bet
- “chase after juggernaut’s sloppy seconds.”
- “chaos phage” info (as if someone has it, and needs help, made me laugh at least)
- “chris sims” “welcome to dark sun, b!#@&s!” (very specific search…)
- “coure of mischief and strife” teleport speed
- “time traveller destroys past. heroes stop him; things are worse.”
Funniest Search Keywords
- “press button receive bacon” and “push button receive bacon” – this one comes up all the time
- “sex with mind flayers”
- chris perkins has a sexy sexy voice
- contortionist d&d
- orc anime sex
- wotc movie porn
- I’ve had it with these motherf-ing dragons in this motherf-ing dungeon
- horny tiefling
Thanks again to They’re Using Tools for the awesome birthday graphic!